K-9 Lifesavers: Legacies of Love
In August of 2015, K-9 Lifesavers lost a member of its extended family: Michael Kadow, a Lifesaver who adopted two of our much-loved rescue dogs. Mike, Desiree, and their dogs, Coco and Barney, shared a special bond, and quite a lot of joy and laughter. When Mike died, Desiree and Mike’s family asked those who loved him to honor his memory through donations to a very few organizations, one of which is K-9 Lifesavers. By Thanksgiving, 2015, Mike’s family and friends donated more than $4,000 to K-9 Lifesavers in his memory, and we continue to receive gifts in his name today. But Mike’s legacy of love has had an even larger impact. Since his passing, families of other remarkable people have followed his example and generously included K-9 Lifesavers in their wills, or asked their loved ones to consider donations to our rescue in their memory. One special family has also generously donated funds in memory of a beloved dog who she lost too soon.
K-9 Lifesavers has created this Memorial page in Mike’s honor so that our friends and family, our Lifesavers, can visit and read about the lives of the remarkable people and dogs in whose names K-9 Lifesavers have received donations. If we are blessed in the future to receive the gift of a legacy such as Mike’s, we’ll add the name and story of the person who remembered K-9 Lifesavers in their passing, or in the passing of their beloved dog, and their friends and family, and our own Lifesavers, will be able to donate in their names if they wish.
We are humbled by Mike’s and Desiree’s selfless act of love, and this is the best way we know how to express our gratitude. It’s a small thing in comparison to the legacy of love they leave with us, but through this page, the story of Mike, Desiree, Coco and Barney will never be forgotten.
Make a Lifesavers’ Legacy Donaton
You will be able to provide the name of the person or pet you are donating on behalf of during the donation process. Our dedicated K-9 Legacy Volunteer will be in touch after the donation is received.
Lifesaver's Legacy: Michael Kadow
Michael Kadow grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, the youngest of a large and loving family. He met his life-long partner, Desiree, in 2004, and in 2007 they moved back to MD and settled. In March, 2009, Mike and Desiree decided to adopt a dog, and reached out to K-9 Lifesavers to meet a few they were interested in. Their adoption coordinator recommended Coco to them because she was a mix of playful and calm, which was exactly what they were looking for, and when Mike met her, the bond was instant. Later that year, Desiree noticed Barney on the K-9 Lifesavers website, and was reminded of a dog from her childhood. They brought Barney home a few days before Christmas but like many rescue dogs, Barney was scared of his new family, so it took him a little while to settle in. All the extra effort was worth it, of course, and now Barney is the family clown – a little mischievous, funny boy who makes everyone laugh.
On August 22, 2015, Mike died. It was sudden and unexpected, and it left the most unimaginable hole in the hearts of all who loved him. When people asked Desiree how they could honor Mike’s memory, she looked at Coco and Barney and thought about how they came into their lives, and asked people to donate to K-9 Lifesavers. Desiree told us “Coco and Barney are the light of our lives, and they brought Mike so much joy. I’m so grateful to K-9 Lifesavers for bringing Coco and Barney to us, and countless smiles, doggie kisses, and love to Mike.”
Lifesaver's Legacy: Al Zarate
Al was born in New London Connecticut in 1936 to an Irish American mother and Filipino father. He got a Ph.D in Sociology from Brown University and taught sociology for several years before joining the National Center for Health Statistics in 1980. Al and his wife Charlotte married in 1980 and settled in Bowie, Maryland in 1981. Al loved to sing and play the guitar and his musical talents brought joy to many – especially the seniors he entertained in his final years.
Al and Charlotte adopted Molly from K-9 Lifesavers in July, 2011. Molly was a 7-month-old feist and was terrified of the world, which is sadly not uncommon for rescue pups. She also wasn’t potty trained, and the stress of potty training was making her adjustment to being a happy pet even more difficult. At the recommendation of a trusted trainer, Al kept Molly on a leash by his side at all times, and it seemed like it took no time at all for Molly to be house trained, and totally devoted to Al. They were inseparable.
Molly’s other best friend was Baxter, a lab mix that belonged to Al and Charlotte’s daughter. When Baxter and his person moved out, Molly had a tough time adjusting, so Al and Charlotte decided to adopt another K-9 Lifesavers pup – and that’s how Molly got her very own dog, Freddy! By this time, Al was retired, so the three of them spent all their time together. Both Molly and Freddy were a big part of Al’s life, and when he died, his friends and family chose to honor that relationship by donating to K-9 Lifesavers in his memory. Every donation helps give other homeless dogs a chance to find their forever home, and Al’s family tells us that nothing would give Al more joy.
Lifesaver's Legacy: Charlotte
Lauren and Nate Wright have always been dog lovers and grew up with wonderful memories of special canine companions. When they decided to adopt a dog together, they found a puppy they liked on K-9 Lifesavers’ website, but after talking to our founder, Barb Newberg, they fell in love with another puppy, Charlotte. Charlotte and her two littermates were rescued from a high-kill shelter in Georgia, and Lauren and Nate met her at the Falls Church adoption event. They walked into the pet store to get away from all the noise and chaos, and Charlotte immediately licked Lauren’s face. That was it – they were head over heels in love.
Like many rescue pups, it took a little while for Charlotte to settle into her new routine. She was anxious, and didn’t know how to accept being touched at first, but Lauren and Nate knew how to be patient and let her grow to trust them. And she did – together, the three of them became family. Over the next four years, Charlotte’s personality emerged, and she became the most fiercely loving, smart, athletic dog Lauren and Nate have ever known. Lauren told us, “she was whip-smart, often learning tricks and commands that neither Nate nor I could remember teaching her. And man, was that dog athletic! She could jump so high (especially when going for her favorite toy, the tennis ball!), that we often joked she was part deer.” Charlotte also inspired Lauren to begin volunteering as an adoption coordinator with K9 Lifesavers.
This past September, Charlotte slipped away from her boarder while Lauren and Nate were out of town. After several days of search parties putting up flyers everywhere, K-9 Lifesavers received a tip from one of their supporters, which led Lauren and Nate to Charlotte. She had wandered onto the highway where she was struck and killed – just three days after her fourth “gotcha” day. Lauren and Nate were heartbroken and devastated to have lost their sweet pup. They had no idea the full impact Charlotte had on their lives until she was gone, and it’s a loss that will always be with them. Lauren says, “Charlotte was the best nurse, snuggle bug, hiking buddy, and friend. We have some many funny stories from her antics that we’ll be telling Charlotte stories for a long, long time. We miss her everyday. Neither of us ever had a dog like Charlotte, nor do we think we ever will again. She taught us so much, and we’re just thankful we had her around for the four years we did. We are also so thankful for K9 Lifesavers for rescuing her, and bringing her to us. Our lives were so much fuller because of her.”